Monday, February 1, 2010

28 Days of Connection, Intimacy, and Love

Welcome to February. Now that my life is significantly less cluttered, I'm planning to spend this month focusing on intimacy and connection.  I've mentioned before that I have a theory that connecting with people on a deeper level actually brings energy into your life, rather than depleting it.  It's that old "emotional piggy bank" or "gas tank" can only give what you have, and you have to find ways to replenish the energy you put out into the world, whether it's through work, mothering, taking care of others, etc. etc.  You can be no good to others if you aren't good to yourself, etc. etc. You've heard all of the cliches and metaphors. The thing is, the more depleted you are, the more energy everything seems to require.  And suddenly getting up off the couch seems like a ginormous feat.

When I tell my friends that I'm antisocial, or introverted, they laugh. They scoff. They mock. They don't believe me. They see me as personable, extroverted, connected. In truth, I am fairly allergic to mingling. And I'm increasingly selfish about my time. 9 times out of 10, I look at the phone when it rings and decide not to answer it.  Not because I've got anything against the caller. But because I never have more than five minutes of uninterrupted time, so it seems rude to answer the phone to talk to someone only to be interrupted every few minutes. And if, perchance, I actually have 30 minutes of solid quiet time, it is sacred. I will grab a book, hit the gym, or sink into a hot bath.  Answering the phone doesn't even seem like an option.

So I spend a lot of time texting, returning messages through voicemail, emailing, and facebooking...because I can do it in the few minutes I have between tasks and ringing doorbells...and I can come back to it after midnight.  The truth is, it's a poor replacement.  It doesn't offer meaningful connections, and so it probably does drain more time and energy (and focus) than touching base with family and friends should.

I think about the friends that ALWAYS answer the phone when I call, and the friends that are always listening to me vent about my life...and I realize that I let my exhaustion and frustration take over my life.  I used to be an excellent, thoughtful, meaningful friend, sister, daughter.

So this is why I want to focus on connecting this month.  I want to fill my life up with the people I care about, and be buoyed by the positive energy that comes from those connections.  I want to make sure people know--and feel--how much I value their place in my life.  I want to prioritize my relationships.  And my theory is that I'll feel more--not less--energized throughout this month as a result.

Here are the rules for this month:
  • Focus on connecting in a meaningful way with Michael, friends and family, colleagues, and dorm students.
  • Stop multitasking while "connecting."  Connecting requires presence, focus...and PAYING ATTENTION.
  • Do something towards this goal EVERY day.
  • Don't use technology as a barrier to connecting...Answer my phone as often as possible without being rude. Don't use the *8 cell phone trick. Try not to text instead of calling without a good reason.
  • Record and reflect along the way, publicly, on this blog. (Don't get your hopes up though. You won't be reading anything sexy on here, despite the focus on intimacy. That wouldn't really be so fair to Michael, who is a bit less of an open book than I am.)
Let the 28 days of love begin!


Robin said...

I'm really interested to read this month's entries and follow along... because when I say I'm not very social or I'm introverted, my friends don't argue. They agree. I'm just quiet. But the fact that I don't talk much shouldn't prevent me from connecting with other people, I just have to go about it in a way that's comfortable and recharging for me rather than exhausting.

Tina Barsby said...

No *8 trick? --- oh Melisa, how will we ever talk?? dare I say "connect"? - well, I applaud your intentions, but frankly, m'dear - I love that *8. after all, you taught it to me.

Melisa K. said...

R--I do think you can quietly connect, definitely!

And T--notice how I didn't *8 you tonight? I felt too guilty. Instead, I'll try to actually call you and catch you tomorrow!